Accuracy in Media


During a speech former Vice President Joe Biden gave from his home, one of his teleprompters malfunctioned. He finished his speech, but the on-camera mishap did not make it into the New York Times’ article on Biden’s speech.

He was in the middle of commenting on first responders dealing with a crush of new cases of the coronavirus before the teleprompter malfunction.

“We have to make sure that we are in a position that we are, well, let me go to the second things, I’ve spoken enough on that,” he said. At that point, the teleprompter did not work and he ad-libbed to Trump’s actions under the Defense Production Act.

The New York Times covered Biden’s speech, but it ignored Biden’s teleprompter mishap during his speech. Its article headlined the Biden campaign’s struggles to create a high public profile, “Joe Biden Is Trying to Be Heard on the Virus. Can He Break Through?” There was not a single mention of Biden’s adjustment to a malfunctioning teleprompter and how the ad-libbing was an awkward moment in his speech.

Instead, the New York Times detailed Biden’s low profile during the coronavirus crisis and how donors and strategists criticized him for not doing enough to contrast himself with Trump. The article noted, “His address offered a reminder of the continuing challenge he faces in getting attention, even when he does speak out.”

“CNN, Fox News and MSNBC did not air his speech, instead showing a briefing by Mr. Cuomo of New York.”

Biden has made multiple on-camera gaffes on the campaign trail, in addition to an aggressive confrontation with an auto worker over gun control. Yet the mainstream media rarely criticized Biden for his public gaffes.

Not only did the New York Times ignore another example of Biden’s on-camera gaffes, but it also highlighted how the mainstream media is not publicizing Biden’s campaign as much as Trump’s management of the coronavirus. It is not the mainstream media’s responsibility to prioritize one candidate over another, but it demonstrated the visibility issues facing Biden’s campaign. The New York Times blamed the mainstream media for not covering Biden’s speech, but ultimately that responsibility falls on Biden’s campaign for not ginning up enough publicity for it.




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